Update on CW Journey

It sounded quite dandy to go ahead and jump into the CW Academy materials and start practicing that way. But I just haven’t done it. Without the accountability of weekly class meetings, it just hasn’t been enough of a priority.  But the need and desire to learn is still there!  I see all of these SOTA and POTA spots popping up on CW and badly wish I could join in.  So an idea popped into my head.

Sometimes when the rest of your life is demanding enough, learning new things for a hobby ends up on the bottom of the list.  Such is pretty much the case with Morse code / CW for me right now.  So I figured I’d make it easier on myself and decided simply to expose myself to it daily.  I listened to the new “DitDit.fm” podcast, and that helped inspire me. A few key things came out of listening to that:

  1. Put the bulk of your effort into listening.
  2. Do it. At some point you just have to commit to immersing yourself.
  3. Perhaps find someone local and/or in your club with whom you can practice.

All of these things, and more, were mentioned by Chris, W4ALF, in episode 5 of DitDit.fm—”CW Immersion.”  But they were the common theme and spirit of what everyone’s journey into CW seemed to consist of.  Especially point #1—Put the bulk of your effort into listening. I wasn’t quite sure how to accomplish this with days spent at work, and not wanting to go “hide away” on the radio when I’m at home with my family.  Then I realized—there are receivers on the web!  I could listen to actual QSOs while working.  Most of the time, I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on them, but once in a while I can. And the more I start to recognize Morse code sounds, the faster the learning will happen—even when just listening in the background.

So I’m trying it out.  Primarily, I’ll use one of the receivers in North America on websdr.org. I’ll set it to one of the busier CW sections of a band, and

(usually 40m).  Also, using the “HamAlert” app on my phone, if I see a SOTA or POTA spot, I may try to tune into that and listen in.  This, combined with listening on my rig at home when I can, has already started to noticeably improve my Morse code listening skills.  Last night, when listening in on a slow QSO, I was even able to pick out a few words – “sick,” “today,” “better now.”  I’ve included a clip here from a QSO heard today. I wasn’t able to make out whole words, but definitely made out some of the characters, somewhat sporadically.

By the way, Chris, W4ALF, put together a cool guide for CW called “Road to CW.”  Lots of useful information summarized in there.

Onward with the CW!

  • I’m in the same boat! I’ve been using an MFJ paddle I picked up a month ago, I also listen and attempt to copy on pad with pencil. I am registered for the CW Academy, but they filled up fast and when I signed up last April, I got in the Jan 2018 class. I use LCWO.net for practice a couple times a day, but this is not as easy as some think (at least for me). I have used my key for one QSO, arranged and coordinated via FB Messenger with another FB user. I hear a lot of acronyms, shortcuts, etc on the air and I am worried that I don’t know the “jargon”, or the proper procedure….excuses really….de K4SFC

    • Rex Vokey

      I can totally relate! lcwo.net has been a bit of a pain for me, too. I mainly used Morse Toad to get the hang of the letters and numbers. Once I somewhat got the hang of the characters, I listened to some QSOs, and I immediately started wondering what the heck “ES” and “BTU” and several other things meant.

      • I think I have tried just about all of the apps and freeware. I’ve got the letters, numbers, comma, period, slash, equal, question….but like I said, the “slang” for lack of a better term eludes me. I just need to start answering CQ calls, or start calling. Somewhat fearful of getting caught up in a long rag chew, or not knowing the protocol, etc.

        • Rex Vokey

          Don’t know if you’re a podcast listener, but if you haven’t yet, check out that DitDit.fm podcast. Definitely a winner!

          • I’ll check it out, always interested in some fresh new training! Thanks!